He's A Freshman! Parks Dominates In Riders' Rout

St. Marys’ Austin Parks dunks the ball during the end of the third quarter in Friday’s Western Buckeye League boys basketball game against Kenton.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

The student section was chanting “he’s a freshman” after Austin Parks exited the game with 1:25 left in the game.

He may be a freshman, but Parks schooled Kenton like he was a savvy senior.

The 6-foot-8 post outscored the Wildcats as a team in the second half with 24 points to the Wildcats’ 21 and dunked — twice — on their chances to remain as one of the three unbeaten teams in Western Buckeye League play with a convincing 66-43 St. Marys’ victory inside an electric Memorial High School.

“You’ve still got to remember that he’s a freshman,” Roughriders coach Dan Hegemier said. “He is feeling his way and we are trying to get him as comfortable as we can. The more confidence he has, the more confident he got throughout the game and he is pretty dung gone good.

“We are all very happy for him.”

The Roughriders outscored the Wildcats 40-21 in the second half after leading by just four at intermission and the key to the second-half success? 

Parks and the inside game.

Parks and senior teammate Ethan Steger combined for 16 points in the third quarter — scored 16 of the team’s 19 points and scored the team’s first 14 points of the stanza as the Riders attempted just two 3-pointers — one of those slicing through the net from Max Mielke. 

The final quarter was much of the same.

Parks and Steger combined for 15 of the team’s 21 points that quarter — including the first 13 points — and attempted just three shots outside the paint. 

Kenton’s tallest player — 6-foot-4 Carson James — did not stand a chance.

Time to go back to school, kids.

“Steger made some good moves inside, which he has to, and then Parks took over,” Hegemier added. “He can be a pretty athletic kid.”

The first quarter was a complete contrast to the end of the game as St. Marys started out flat on offense with a 1-of-10 showing from the floor and a tick slow on the defensive end as the Wildcats flashed their speed for three offensive rebounds that ended up leading to four points. Jayden Cornell led the charge with seven points and a pair of 3-pointers for an 11-1 lead 5:52 into the game and eventually an 11-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.

“They just out-worked us,” Hegemier said. “We were flat, we made one pass and shot the ball on offense and with they’re first step, they were able to blow right around us. I watched a lot of tape on them and it did not surprise me because they are very athletic.”

The Roughriders were punched in the mouth. Down but not out. First-round Wildcats, match Roughriders.

“Tony [Arling] got on them and Jason [Clark] got on them,” Hegemier said. “Maybe we didn’t anticipate the speed and quickness that they have. They are a nice team … but I guess that’s why you play four quarters.”

Indeed.

Whenever Kenton threw a punch, St. Marys jabbed back just as quick in the second quarter.

Jadin Davis drove in for a bucket to cut Kenton’s lead to 13-8 with 5:48 left in the half, but Caden Bolling answered with 11 seconds left with a triple. Ethan Steger recorded his first field goal on a feed from Mielke at 5:11 followed by Davis connecting on a triple at 4:26 before for Bryce Ellis responded with another trey to extend the lead back to five at 18-13 at 4:16. 

Then LeTrey Williams struck with a 3-ball in the left corner, Davis stormed into the lane for a bucket and Steger bullied his way for an and-one and all of a sudden, the Roughriders had a 21-20 lead with 2:39 left in the half.

In a matter of 3:09, the Riders gained control of the game.

Jake Eversole regained the Kenton lead with 2:20 left, but it was the last time the Wildcats led on Friday as Cisco drained a 3-ball from the left side began the constant onslaught and Parks’ presence began to show with 41.8 seconds left with his putback on a missed Mielke attempt to give St. Marys a 26-22 halftime lead. 

Steger set the tone for the rest of the game with back-to-back buckets — opening the third quarter with an and-one and getting into the face of Bolling after the bucket. St. Marys eventually opened the quarter with a 7-0 advantage as Parks scored the team’s next nine points as the Roughriders jumped out to a 40-26 lead with 1:40 remaining in the quarter. 

Kenton desperately tried to get its offense going again from downtown, but missed six straight attempts in the second half before finally connecting in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.

Aside from Parks’ 26, Steger tallied 13 points, Davis finished with nine and Williams contributed seven points. Cornell led the Wildcats with 14 points, followed by 10 from Ellis as Kenton had just five scorers in the game.